It’s hard to believe the 2012 legislative session already has come to a close. Since passing an early budget in March, my colleagues and I have taken action to improve the quality of life for all our communities through many different pieces of legislation. With this year’s session concluded, I would like to highlight some of the real achievements of the past six months.
With sound fiscal planning and the consolidation, merging or elimination of nearly 30 government agencies and offices, my colleagues and I closed $13.5 billion in budget deficits over two years without raising taxes. In fact, I’m proud to report that the middle-class tax rate in our state is the lowest it has been in nearly 60 years. This is on top of last year’s historic two percent property tax cap, protecting our residents from sky-high tax rates.
Along with lowering personal income taxes for our residents, we’ve taken many strides toward spurring job creation. Through the establishment of the $75 million New York Works Economic Development Fund, thousands of jobs will be available for our residents. We also supported $1.2 billion in New York Works transportation funding to pay for bridge repairs, pavement preservation projects and protect motorists across our state. While there is still more work to accomplish to provide job opportunities for all our residents, we have laid the foundation for future economic growth across New York.
This year my colleagues and I took many steps to address public safety. I was pleased that we expanded the state’s DNA database by requiring a DNA sample from every person convicted of a felony or penal misdemeanor. We passed legislation to prohibit bullying and cyber-bullying that put forth protocols to protect students and educate them on the consequences of victimizing others.
In two measures I proudly co-sponsored, the Assembly passed bills to create the I-STOP program and established the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Through I-STOP’s real-time registry to track the filling of prescriptions and improved education and awareness of prescription drug abuse, we can better stop this social epidemic. The new Justice Center would protect patients with special needs from abuse and mistreatment, ensuring these vulnerable residents receive the proper treatment they deserve.
All in all, my colleagues and I undertook many initiatives this year to enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers. While there is still more work to be done to provide the mandate relief for our counties and promote economic growth, several steps were taken in 2012 to put New York back on track and create a brighter future for the citizens of the Empire State.